A trip to the College World Series. That’s what was on the line for the North Carolina baseball team as it competed in the Chapel Hill Super Regional against Auburn.
But in the drama-packed three games, it was the Tigers who reigned victorious, benefiting from three high-scoring innings over the weekend to punch their ticket to Omaha, Neb., and to end the Tar Heels' season.
In Game 1, North Carolina’s offense started off fast, carrying over the energy from the ACC Tournament and regional round, where the Tar Heels scored a combined 61 runs in seven games.
First-year Aaron Sabato hit an RBI double down the right field line to score junior Michael Busch, then a single from junior Ashton McGee scored two more runs for a 3-0 lead in the first inning. That helped the Tar Heels to a 5-2 advantage heading into the eighth inning, needing just six outs to secure the Game 1 victory.
Then it happened – the UNC bullpen faltered. In the last two innings, Auburn exploded to score nine runs on six hits, handing North Carolina its first Game 1 loss in a Super Regional since 2003 against South Carolina.